I am still recovering from my whistle-stop tour of the UK (Petersfield, Brighton, Norwich) which saw me work hard, party hard (with friends old and new) and do some yoga just for me. Blissfully burnt out.

I taught a workshop on the Quest for Happiness, which has featured in most of my classes since my French friends wished me a new year ‘plein de bonheur et que le meilleur’ (full of happiness and only the best). Having branded our family the Happy Coulsons (no pressure there), this is something we should know all about. And we certainly are happy. But why? How? And is it something we can actively pursue?

Talking to friends who do not deem themselves ‘happy’, happiness seemed to them an elusive concept, intangible and unrealistic. One person even said they didn’t believe in happiness. They talked about it as something you might find in small measures throughout life, something that comes from things going on around you. I disagree. The motto we use on our Happy Coulson website is: ‘Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life’. But I was struggling with how best to express how to live it…

The Very Happy BrainUntil I saw a short animated film by Dr Amit Sood, about his scientific research into what makes a brain happy. Dr Sood believes that more effective than the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of two other, much more achievable goals – Compassion and Gratitude. Compassion to yourself and others, and gratitude for the good in your life.

I have found myself thinking and talking about my cousin Dan, who broke his neck in a diving accident six years ago. For a while, Dan struggled to see the good in his life. Then he stopped struggling and focused on what he could do. He could breathe in and breathe out, at first not without the help of a machine, but for that he was grateful.

Dan's happiness talkDan is happier than ever before. He has set up the Dan Eley Foundation to give underprivileged children in Columbia, where he had his accident, access to training and a way out of poverty and crime. He also gives inspirational talks about his ‘formula for happiness’ or using adversity to discover our potential and has just applied to become a TED speaker.

Dan is the walking embodiment of how the pursuit of gratitude and compassion can make you happy. And before you think I just used a really inappropriate word to describe my tetraplegic cousin, check out this video of Bionic Dan, walking for the first time since 2009.

Be kind. Be grateful. And see where that gets you.

Filed under: Happy Coulson

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!